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To Think At 53, I Might Have More Life In Me Yet...?

(12 Posts)
TheBeesNeez Tue 25-Nov-14 16:07:31

Namechange because this gets personal. I really need some advice/support.

I used to be a primary teacher. I was a good teacher and loved my job. I had one son, after years of trying and failing to conceive and then... a year's subfertility treatment. And got pregnant with No 2. I was still teaching.

After my second son was born, I never really returned to work apart from agency work, the odd day's supply. Because by the time he was 1, there was a problem and by the time he was 2 - lots of problems. Which turned out to be a disability. So I gave up work.

I had nothing to lose - well a career and an income. For 20 years plus we have struggled for money. Lost our house - almost our marriage. I had younger kids, too (this time without help).

Now my son was in special school from pre-school age til he was 11 then kicked into mainstream, where he wasn't happy as they weren't geared up for him. He struggled. He left high school with no qualifications but went to study Art at college, worked his way through 3 levels of BTEC and... this year got into uni! (At 21). We were so thrilled - my older and younger son had left home and gone to uni already and oldest son now has a good job and an independent life.

No 2 did so well - I once heard on the radio only a few kids with his disability even make it to further ed and he made it to uni.

I lost Carer's Allowance (fair enough). And now I find all the Return To Teaching courses have ended. Not that there was a mechanism to help qulified teachers change age phase and that would ideally have been right for me. I helped in my sons' primary school for years and hated it. I found primary age kids whiney and boring and spoilt brats compared to the inner city kids I was used to teaching, 20 years ago. But I love working with older kids. I like teenagers and get on with them - and when I have to help my teens with homework, find all my old teaching skills come back to me and am in my element. A Level tutoring in my old subject would be fantastic but how to get experience and references? Impossible.

In the past ten years, wanting to entirely piss my life up the wall, I decided to turn to writing. And did quite well. I have had magazine articles published all over the world (under different names, in different subject areas). In one or two of those areas I built a big rep and have quite a blog following. I have a book about to come out with a publisher. On paper, it looks good but the reality is there is very little money in writing. I love it and am good at it. I could feasibly start workshops as one offshoot of my writing is I get asked to do the occasional talk (which I loathe) but workshops would be teaching - which I adore. On the few occasions I have taught adults, I love that too.

I'd love to have re-trained to teach young adults/adults. But I missed that boat. I have no current references (been out of the teaching world too long). I'm one of those people who always defined myself by being on courses, or learning something new, and later - being a carer for a disabled child. Now we have 4 years before he will very likely be home again, and I feel at 53 I am unemployable in 'the real world'. I don't know what to do. My old agency say if I worked as a TA for some time I might be able to get back into teaching but I don't even have references to do that, so would have to volunteer for months, first. So... workshops in the areas I'm well known in? But how can I make a steady income?

I can stick with the writing but it's little more than pocket money. To monetise it, I'd have to do a LOT of workshops.

Sometimes also I wonder if I should just find something totally new to do? But at 50 odd, with no references and only experience looking after a special needs kid... who'd employ me?

I feel like I ballsed up.

I am so proud of my disabled son and his amazing achievement and know he got there because of our sacrifices as a family (I was earnign more than my husband when I gave up work). But I still feel like there is 20 good years left in me. I feel directionless and a bit depressed, too.

So what next?

Nabootique Tue 25-Nov-14 16:24:18

Well done to your son and your family! Could you do private tutoring for secondary school aged?

wordsmithsforever Tue 25-Nov-14 18:27:22

Of course you’re not BU to think at 53 you have 20-odd years!

My dFIL is over 70 (73 I think) and is still working part-time, having only just retired from full-time work. My dMIL is a couple of years younger and travels all over the country teaching in her particular area which I gather is quite well paid and she loves. My parents were similar and very active. I think the idea of retiring at 60-odd is very outdated (not least because few will be able to afford it). It sounds like you’ve done a great job with your DC and the good thing is you have a number of skills.

I laughed at the bit about “wanting to entirely piss my life up the wall, I decided to turn to writing”! Yes, exactly!

On a more serious note, I feel for you – I also resigned (from that rare thing – a pretty well paid regular writing job) – to take care of my late mother. Looking back it probably wasn’t the right thing to do although things were very stressful at the time as she was v ill and it was difficult to decide what was best. Maybe we can have an unfck your career support thread for over-40s!

But don’t lose hope OP. You’re in pretty good position – lots of skills, the start of something interesting and lucrative sounding (the writing and workshops respectively) and the satisfaction of a job well done with your DS – onwards and upwards and good luck ...

bodhranbae Tue 25-Nov-14 18:43:05

Business TEFL?
Director of Studies in EFL School?

Or how about helping children who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion? Mentoring etc?

Don't underestimate your skills and life experience. I think at this age (I am 50) it is best to try to expand on what you have rather than retrain entirely.

simbacatlivesagain Tue 25-Nov-14 18:59:25

The return to teaching courses ended because they were no longer needed. You can return to teaching at anytime without needing to formally update.

There is a massive shortage of primary school teachers. Go and talk to a local school and volunteer. They will do your DBS. If you are a good volunteer then the school will start to offer you work or help you to find supply work etc - personal references from one HT to another are the best way to get work.

It wont take long if it is what you want to do. The pay is better than 20 years ago.

SparkyLark Tue 25-Nov-14 19:49:31

I think I know where your coming from OP, I have something like that going on, though not with your great writing credits (you should feel very proud).

But just to say you aren't valued "in the market" and "in monetary terms" doesn't mean to say you aren't valuable in your own right.

(Have a re-read of the Communist Manifesto, to flesh this out - a great and underestimated read IMO.)

Its not clear from your post whether its money or value that you are trying to find. Maybe you could make money, that's another question really, in the creative field. But if you are looking to be "valuable" I think one issue is that what is valuable is not always valued in modern society, IYKWIM, whatever your talents are. However, to my mind, that doesn't mean you don't have them or you shouldn't use them, regardless!

Finally, with the hard work of bringing up your son, don't you also deserve now some time for yourself to trip the light fantastic?

amyhamster Tue 25-Nov-14 19:52:33

' I found primary age kids whiney and boring and spoilt brats'

what all of them?
in all schools?!!

airedailleurs Tue 25-Nov-14 20:01:48

I was going to suggest TEFL too. You totally fit the profile and would love it! Never too old, honestly, you could even go and teach abroad, anywhere in the world, it's a wonderful, liberating profession if you enjoy and have experience of teaching already and working with words.
Train somewhere good like International House, you can even train in one of their overseas schools such as Barcelona or Warsaw, you can do an intensive one month course, not sure how much they cost these days, but totally go for it and good luck!

trendytoes Tue 25-Nov-14 20:43:23

You certainly don't need any qualifications to get a job as a TA given that you are already a qualified teacher. Most schools would snap you up.

deste Tue 25-Nov-14 22:32:51

I'm sure you could teach in a college, when I worked there you did your teaching qualifications on the job.

Come to our neck of the woods, they can't get teachers or supply teachers for love nor money.

Iwasnevermaryalwaysashepherd Tue 25-Nov-14 22:37:21

Have you any prisons near you - the education departments are usually run by FE Colleges - usually from 100's miles away. I have worked in prison education for nearly 15 years and I love it x

BiscuitMillionaire Tue 25-Nov-14 22:40:05

Surely you would easily be able to get into tutoring, with your teaching background and experience with your own children? Get in touch with some agencies.

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